Plastic plays an integral role in the global packaging and shipping of goods yet as more and more of it accrued in landfill and marine environments it was crowned public enemy number one.

As a result, increasing numbers of organisations have switched plastic for alternative sources in an effort to align their operations with their environmental values and accreditation criteria.

Yet does this really make a meaningful contribution to pressing environmental concerns, or are they simply knee-jerk reactions that actually create another set of problems for the environment?

The actual cost of replacing plastic for alternative sources

There are plenty of examples of companies today who have switched their use of plastic in packaging for more environmentally friendly sources such as paper and board.

However, statistics show it takes 54,000 litres of water, plus countless other chemicals, to produce just one tonne of paper/board.

Simply switching sources isn’t necessarily the answer. According to the UK’s Green Alliance, wholesale switches to plastic alternatives such as bio-based plastics, aluminium, glass, or paper will have their own consequences for the environment.

Packaging weight and C02 emissions are among them. The Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures at The University of Sheffield reported that on average the replacement of plastic food packaging would increase the weight of the packaging by 3.6 times, increase the energy use by 2.2 times and increase carbon dioxide emissions by 2.7%.

It isn’t uncommon for businesses to seek out biodegradable plastic wrap an alternative to regular stretch film, a strategy intended to highlight their commitment to positive environmental action.

Yet even bioplastics give off C02 as part of the biodegrading process; according to the Royal Society of Chemistry, some bioplastics can produce even more CO2 impact than the plastic they were intended to replace.

So, what is the alternative?

Choose recyclable – not biodegradable plastics

The good news is that most plastics can be recycled; ocean plastics are being harvested and recycled for the likes of socks and trainers for Adidas, while other recyclables have been recreated for use as bins, mats, rugs and blankets.

In particular, recyclable stretch film often turns up in the form of garden furniture, street furniture and plastic lumber for fencing and decking that is stylish yet robust in the outdoor environment.

All films are marked according to how they can be recycled.

Plastic recycling is also one of the key reasons that virtually all plastic wrap is clear. Coloured wrap is much harder to break down so is not a good option for the environment. If you are considering the use of a coloured wrap you might keep this in mind and consider an alternative wrapping option.

As stretch wrap is one of the biggest contributors to warehouse waste, recyclable wrap will also be appreciated by the business receiving your pallets. Instead of having to pay for wrap to be taken away to landfill, it can return value in scrap material and make an impact on an organisation’s bottom line.

Upgrade your pallet wrapping technology

Taking advantage of new pallet wrapping technology can also help your business make a meaningful impact on the environment.

For example, Vorteck pallet wrapping machine with a power pre-stretch head will stretch typical films up to 350%. That can significantly reduce the amount of film you need to apply to each pallet load, not only saving you money, but lessening the amount of plastic released into the environment.

Newer technology also uses less energy than older pallet wrapping machinery and helps lower the carbon footprint. Even today’s pallet stabilisers contribute to the eco-friendly transportation of goods.

Developing a strategy that makes a meaningful contribution to the environment needs much more than a quick-fix solution if it is to truly align with your organisation’s environmental and/or sustainability values.

The Vorteck team has more than 50 years’ experience in end-of-line packaging solutions and can help you create a customised approach that enhances your positive environmental impact.

Get in touch with an expert Vorteck engineer today for more information on 01 685 2096.